Going to coaching seminars is exhausting!

As I reported last week, I spent Thursday through Saturday doing an FIVB technical seminar on outside hitting and serving, and then Sunday attending the annual Volleyball England Coaches Conference. I’m completely wiped out!

It all started with a 8 hour trip from Exeter to Kettering. Now part of that was a lengthy layover in London because when I booked my train tickets I was expecting to have a meeting in there, which I ended up not having. Still, it was an early start and a mid afternoon arrival. I later met up and had dinner with Mark Lebedew, my partner in the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project, and the FIVB instructor for the seminar. My roommate for the rest of the week – an experienced coach from Belgium – arrived later that night. That would end up being the night I got the most sleep.

The seminar started at 9:00 the next morning. You can see the smiling faces of all us “delegates”, instructors Sue Gozansky (who ran a parallel setting seminar) and Mark, and the Volleyball England staff running things here. As you’d expect, England had the highest representation, but coaches from a couple other nations were also in attendance. Each day started around the same time, and we went until about 5:00 or 6:00 PM each day, but then over dinner and several hours in the hotel lounge area continued to talk volleyball and coaching until late at night. That, combined with not sleeping particularly well, had me (and others) running on willpower at times toward the end.

Several of the seminar attendees – as well as Mark and Sue – carried over for Sunday’s conference. This one was different from the first I attended in 2013 or last year’s. I think it represents a transition based on feedback and expressed interest. The 2013 conference was largely focused on talking about where V.E. was looking to take things, with only a small technical element at the end. The 2014 version had a bit more technical, but still had a bunch of conversations that were more organizational in focus. This year’s edition was clearly designed to focus more on the actual coaching side of things. It started with Sue & Mark doing a great 45-minute Q&A on team building concepts. After that there were technical sessions on transition hitting, block & defense, season planning, and strength & conditioning. I skipped out on the last hour or so in order to be able to make my train back.

I’ll get into some of the finer points of what was discussed in future posts (I’m also hoping to get a report on the WEVZA coaching seminar held in Valladolid from a couple coaches I know who attended that). For now let me talk about something related to a question I was asked the second night of the FIVB seminar. That was, to paraphrase, “What were you looking to get out of the event?”

I got that question from one of the Volleyball England staff during the evening when a bunch of us were hanging around in the hotel lounge. I mentioned one or two other things, but my initial response was, “This.” By that I meant connecting and interacting with other coaches – some of whom I knew before, but most of whom I did not. For me, that aspect of attending events like these is the most valuable. In part it’s networking – which from a career perspective can be very important. In part it is about getting different perspectives on things.

As a side note, I was again surprised at the number of coaches who told me they read this blog. I got a lot of congratulations on landing the new job I mentioned in my log post the other day (more on that soon, too). I also had several coaches talking about the Wizads project. It was cool to hear they are as excited about it as Mark and I are.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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